July 15. If you are a Harry Potter fan, chances are you have this date marked on your calendar and you don’t need to be reminded what is coming up: the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” (Check out the most recent trailer.)
Before you don your 3D glasses and settle in with some of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, take a trip back through the Harry Potter series by rereading our past reviews.
In the 2001 film, young Harry finds out he is a wizard and is shipped off to Hogwarts where he makes friends, becomes a Quidditch star and meets He Who Must Not Be Named. Of the movie’s title character, Desson Howe wrote in his review that“[Daniel] Radcliffe is an utter, unpretentious, non-obnoxious charm. Let's hope he can complete his round of Harry roles before his voice breaks.”
In the second film, Harry fights a giant snake, solves a mystery linked to a diary and Kenneth Branagh steps in as a defense against the dark arts teacher. Branagh is the only person who receives any praise from the Post’s Stephen Hunter, who calls the movie “big, dull and empty” and “roughly the length of the Ice Age.” Perhaps the harshest criticism is of Radcliffe, who is called “unimpressive." Ow.
Harry learns all about the death of his parents, Ron finds out the truth about his rat (creepy!) and Hermione throws a punch. Also of note: Michael Gambon replaces Richard Harris as Dumbledore. Of the movie, the Post’s Ann Hornaday wrote: “Put delicately, this is one long sit, made all the more so by a turgid story, a dour visual palette and uninspiring action.” Of course she also offers that she is “not a Potterphile, has never cracked a Potter book or darkened the door of a theater playing one of the Potter movies.”
At 14, the too-young Harry finds himself entered into the Triwizard Tournament. As much fun as it is to watch Harry battle dragons, meet merpeople and duel Voldemort, it is much more fun to watch him squirm as he works up the nerve to ask his crush to the Yule Ball (more or less the prom of the wizard world). Desson Thomson wrote that it is “the most engaging Potter film of the series thus far.”
Harry launches an all-out publicity war to prove to the Ministry of Magic and the rest of the wizard world that Voldemort is a threat. His announcements are ignored and the wicked Dolores Umbridge is added as a teacher at Hogwarts to keep him quiet. In other news, Harry gets a kiss from his crush and Desson Thomson calls the movie “an urgently paced thriller that modulates adroitly between psychological darkness and cartoonish slapstick” and “one of the most pleasurable films in the series.”
As Dan Kois accurately writes in his review of “The Half-Blood Prince,” “They should have called it ‘Harry Potter and the Teenagers in Heat’: Hermione fancies Ron! Ron can't keep his hands off Lavender Brown! Harry has a crush on Ron's sister Ginny!” While all of that is true, there was also plenty of background on why Voldemort is so darn evil and, of course, the death of Dumbledore.
Setting the stage for the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort, “The Deathly Hallows” is dark — to say the least. Harry, Ron and Hermione quit school and search for the Horcruxes that keep Voldemort alive. Ann Hornaday was correct when she wrote, “It's half of a really good movie.”
And we can’t wait for the other half.